URBRA to celebrate improved regulation, efficiency in pension sector

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The Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) this year marks its tenth anniversary with a call to all Ugandans to save for retirement and avoid old-age poverty.

This comes at a time when the sector is basking in numerous milestones attained in a regulated and supervised context.

Reminiscing the period before the regulator was established. Martin Nsubuga, URBRA’s CEO noted that over the past ten years, the sector has overcome most of the challenges that plagued it.

“The sector was unsupervised and unregulated, saddled by an ever-growing fiscal burden of pension liabilities, mismanagement of schemes, misappropriation of assets, poor investment decisions, loss of funds, embezzlement of member savings, and outright corruption,” Mr Nsubuga said.

The primary objective for establishing URBRA was to protect members’ funds; improve the scope and efficiency of the sector, with the ultimate goal of ensuring adequate, affordable, sustainable retirement benefits for all savers.

Over the past ten years, URBRA has developed systems and capabilities to regulate and supervise the sector.

According to Nsubuga, the strong supervisory regime introduced by URBRA, is the foundation for the current sector trends that have seen great improvements in scheme governance and prudential investment, which have resulted in the growth of sector assets from less than Shs 4 trillion in 2014 to the current Shs 20 trillion.

The sector also boasts 65 licenced retirement benefits schemes, covering 18% of Uganda’s 15 million workforce.

On this note, the CEO noted that there is still more work to be done to ensure that more Ugandans save for retirement.

He especially observed that Ugandans who are in informal employment are particularly lacking structured retirement saving schemes, which exposes them to the risk of old-age poverty.

“Old-age doesn’t discriminate. It comes to everyone, whether in formal or informal employment. Currently, most of the people covered by retirement plans are in formal employment. There is need to bring informal sector workers on board," Nsubuga said.

As part of the tenth anniversary commemoration, on July 7, URBRA will host a one-day public symposium, where stakeholders will converge to reflect on the sector’s journey over the past ten years and make recommendations for the sustainability of the gains so far attained.

The symposium will be addressed by the Vice President as the chief guest.

The keynote speaker will be Brendan Kennedy, the technical chair of the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS).

Other speakers will included Catherine Bitarakwate, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service; Mr Richard Byarugaba, Managing Director of NSSF… among others.

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